Sixers officially shut Joel Embiid down for rest of season

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Is playing in 31 games enough to win Rookie of the Year?

That’s the question buzzing around the NBA after Philadelphia made official what a lot of people expected: Joel Embiid is being shut down for the rest of the season to let his knee heal. An MRI Monday led to the decision, according to the team.

“The assessment of Monday’s follow-up MRI of Joel Embiid’s left knee appears to reveal that the area affected by the bone bruise has improved significantly, while the previously identified meniscus tear appears more pronounced in this most recent scan,” said Sixers Chief Medical Director Dr. Jonathan Glashow in a statement released by the team. “We will continue to work with leading specialists to gather additional information through clinical examination and sequential testing to determine the best course of action and next steps.”

Embiid averaged 20.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game despite a minutes restriction all season. He was incredibly efficient in getting his numbers — he had an All-Star level PER of 24.2 — and when he was on the court the Sixers outscored their opponents by three points per 100 possessions. He was clear and away the best rookie when he played, with the Bucks’ Malcolm Brogdon and the Nugget’s Jamal Murray a distant second and third.

Still, just 31 games. The fewest games a Rookie of the Year has played in up to this point is 50 by Patrick Ewing.

Talking to voters, I get the sense Embiid is still the frontrunner for the award and may well win. Marc Stein of ESPN summed it up well.